Young Hackney girl footballers challenge stereotypes in new documentary

The girls filmed the documentary themselves. Pic: Edith Whitehead.

A local girl’s football club have made a documentary challenging the gender stereotypes within the sport.

“This Is What A Footballer Looks Like” is a 15-minute documentary, directed, filmed, starred and written by the team members of Hackney Laces Football Club,

The club is open to girls aged 11-17 and trains at the Petchey Academy School in Dalston. The documentary focuses on encouraging more girls to play football and bringing more feminine elements to the sport. The girls interviewed each other and also touched upon other topics like pay inequality between male and female footballers.

“Football should not have a face or a name, it is a sport that anyone can do. When I come to football I am passionate about it and I am empowered, I think girls should just do what they love.” says 16-year-old Hackney Laces player Famke.

The girls interviewed each other. Pic: Edith Whitehead.

The documentary is a co-operation initiated by Sisterhood, a social enterprise and design studio, consisting of Central Saint Martins graduates Rebecca Thomson and Rachita Saraogi.

Through a 12-week workshop with Sisterhood, Hackney Laces went through the design thinking process. They partnered up with London Football Journeys who provided them with equipment and basic training in how to use the cameras. The charity runs programmes across London bringing young people from different backgrounds together through film and football. “This Is What A Footballer Looks Like” also features their local communities, including their favourite places to play and eat in Hackney.

Katee Hui started the club in 2011 after noticing a lack of opportunities for females to play. Since then Hackney Laces Football Club has become a platform to empower their players, developing an ’off the pitch’ programme to aspire the girls beyond football. Hui said she was ‘blown away’ by the girls’ creative talent and articulation of the struggle every woman faces as female footballers.

“I hope there is a generation of female footballers out there who regardless of their ability or what level they want to play at, they at least had the chance to try it and hopefully liked it.”

So far their documentary has arranged community screenings with other football teams in both South and West London.

Thomson, Sisterhood Co-founder, said: “We work with clients who want to create social change and positive impact. Our program helps boost girls confidence by using design as a tool and vehicle to solve problems and create opportunity.”

Sisterhood started as a university project, when Thomson and Saraogi discovered that while 70 per cent of their fellow graphic design students were female, there were only 20 per cent women in the industry. They wanted to look further into why this was the case. By arranging panel discussions they realised that confidence, courage and charisma was rewarded by the industry.

“For girls confidence is knocked at such a young age. We use design to boost their confidence and do something creative for social change,” said Thomson.

The film will be available on social media and on London Football Journeys’ website. To arrange a screening, contact Sisterhood.

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